Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sick Leave

The state which employs me has a fairly generous sick day policy. Employees who retire with accrued sick leave can convert it, not to cash, but to health care premiums for retirement. If you work for the state for a lot of years, and don't use a lot of sick time, you can get quite a sum at the end. It's a reasonable incentive not to use sick time frivolously, and one of those perks that government employees get in lieu of competitive pay.

Of course, this benefit is for all state employees, but it works a little oddly for university faculty, because we, as a rule, don't take sick time. Sure, if something catastrophic happens, and a faculty member is going to be out for weeks or months, they take sick time, but if they have a bug (or a child with a bug), they usually just cancel classes and re-order the syllabus a little. I've done it. I'm sure most people do.

The problem is that the legislature did some kind of audit, and found out that the university faculty were taking a lot less sick time than other state employees, and decided to crack down. OK, fine. I can understand, and I promise to report as sick time the next time I cancel class. But the powers that be want to be really sure that we aren't abusing the system. They want to make sure that we report sick time for doctor's visits and such.

I'm not sure anyone understands the policy, but here's the way it has been explained to me. If I go to a doctor or a dentist during "normal working hours," I have to take sick time. If I don't cancel classes or office hours, it doesn't matter. I still have to report it. If I come back after and work until midnight, it still doesn't matter. I have to report it.

Of course, I don't otherwise have to punch a time clock. So I can come in at 10 and leave at 2 every day, and as long as I get in my classes and office hours, and don't neglect my other duties too much, I'm OK. I can go golfing every Wednesday afternoon, and that's fine. But if I go to the doctor, it's sick time.